12 Nov 2014

Juncker says Luxembourg squeaky clean on tax

​Jean-Claude Juncker has been defending his conduct as PM and Finance Minister of Luxembourg to MEPs.

He said nothing illegal was done in Luxembourg over tax avoidance and that all companies were treated the same way.

What they were treated to was tax avoidance hospitality on an industrial scale – now made clear in a wave of documents acquired by The Guardian and others.

As he did in a press conference this morning, Mr Juncker blamed Luxembourg’s tax status offers to companies on “a lack of tax harmonisation in Europe”. There were jeers for that from some MEPs.

He delved deep into the past to claim his own credentials on harmonisation.

He said Luxembourg in 1991 was at the forefront of harmonising VAT and excise duties, the implication being if the country had had the presidency for longer it would’ve ironed out any inconsistencies on corporate tax havens as well.

He sat down to applause and jeers, the applauders out-numbering the critics by the sound of it.

It had been expected that Mr Juncker would not himself respond to his critics in the European Parliament.

He’s on his way to the G20 summit in Australia soon when transparency is high up the agenda, and may have decided it was better to confront the criticisms here rather than at his press conference there.

He may yet face the same questions all over again.

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